The following is the gist of interpellations at the House of Representatives Budget Committee on Feb. 27:
Moritomo Gakuen issue
Kensuke Onishi (Democratic Party [DP]): Children at the kindergarten (operated by Moritomo Gakuen) were made to say “Go, Prime Minister Abe!” in their athlete’s oath during their field day.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: I have absolutely no desire to ask the kindergarten to do so, and I think this was inappropriate.
Nobuyuki Fukushima (DP): Doesn’t this athlete’s oath constitute political activity banned under the Fundamental Law of Education?
Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Hirokazu Matsuno: It is up to the Osaka prefectural government to decide whether a particular act constitutes political activity. We are closely watching its response.
Fukushima: Has your wife received any remuneration or a speaker’s fee as the honorary principal (of the elementary school to be opened by Moritomo Gakuen)?
Abe: I’m told she received no compensation whatsoever.
Masato Imai (DP): The political authorities should investigate this issue.
Abe: My wife and I are not involved in any manner.
Imai: You bear great responsibility for condoning [your wife’s] serving as honorary principal.
Abe: It is up to the Osaka prefectural government to decide whether Moritomo Gakuen is an appropriate incorporated educational institution.
Onishi: Will the outstanding teacher awards received by Moritomo Gakuen’s staff from the education minister be revoked?
Matsuno: We will make a decision based on the judgment of Osaka Prefecture, which recommended those awards.
Abe: One award was made during the Democratic Party of Japan administration. If the awards are to be revoked, I would like to hear the views of the education minister at that time.
Onishi: If you have nothing to hide, you should set up an investigative committee with third-party members. It is also necessary to hold an intensive session on this issue.
Hiromasa Nakano (Komeito): Efforts to compile action plans have reached a critical stage. How determined are you to implement these reforms?
Abe: These are significant reforms. It is necessary for the government, labor, and management to work on them together. We are making every effort to compile the plans by the end of March.
Chizuko Takahashi (Japanese Communist Party): Will the labor minister’s notice on exempting power companies’ operations in relation to safety inspections for the reactivation of nuclear plants from the restrictions on overtime work be rescinded?
Minister of Health, Labor, and Welfare Yasuhisa Shiozaki: I am thinking of issuing a notice shortly on ending this policy by the end of FY2016. (Slightly abridged)